Tuesday November 24th, 2020 9:58PM

Primary takeaways: Establishment fails and diversity grows

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump got his man in battleground Florida, but he watched a prominent immigration ally fall in Arizona in what was another eventful night in the 2018 midterm season.

Arizona and Florida held primaries Tuesday, both of which tested Trump's influence. There were also new signs of diversity on the Democratic side.

Takeaways from one of the final rounds of voting ahead of midterm elections:


The political establishment in both parties had a bad night in Florida's high-profile race for governor.

On the Republican side, Trump got his man, Republican congressman Ron DeSantis, who beat out the establishment favorite, state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Despite Trump's support, DeSantis was not the strongest general election candidate in the race, operatives in both parties suggest.

The three-term Republican congressman who makes frequent Fox News appearances is known as an immigration hard-liner in a state where Hispanic voters hold outsized sway. And lest there be any question about his allegiance to Trump's divisive immigration policies, DeSantis encourages his toddler to "build the wall" with blocks in one campaign ad.

That's a message that may play well among a general electorate in West Virginia, where Trump won by more than 40 percentage points in 2016, but Trump carried Florida by only a single percentage point.

On the Democratic side, liberal champion Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, bested a crowded field that included establishment favorite Gwen Graham, the former congresswoman and daughter of Florida political icon Bob Graham.

Graham, who was considered a centrist, was viewed as a more attractive general election candidate in the purple state. Gillum is more liberal, having earned the backing of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and billionaire Tom Steyer.

To win the governor's office for the first time since 1999, Democrats will have to come together quickly.

The results on both sides underscore the outsized influence of each party's most passionate voters in lower-turnout off-year elections.


Martha McSally won the GOP nomination for Arizona Senate, but the results show how divided the party is and the challenge that lies ahead.

A significant number of Republicans backed former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and fellow immigration hard-liner Kelli Ward.

Now McSally has to bring together the party — including some of Trump's most devoted supporters — going into the fall against Democrat Krysten Sinema, who is widely considered well-positioned. The race gives Democrats one of their best pickup opportunities in the nation.

Meanwhile, it would be wrong to assume that McSally's win is a repudiation of the tough rhetoric of her challengers, who essentially split the conservative vote.

The 86-year-old man known nationwide as Sheriff Joe, who personifies the tough immigration policies that define the modern-day Republican Party, may never serve in public office again after his loss Tuesday.

(For those who forget, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt last year for ignoring a judge's order to stop detaining immigrants in the country illegally. Trump later pardoned him.)


If a Democratic wave is coming to Florida, it may have to be supplied by independents.

With just a handful of precincts left to count, Republicans cast more than 1.6 million Florida ballots, while registered Democrats were on track to fall just below 1.5 million. Beyond the raw vote totals, the GOP count also was a larger share of its last presidential election turnout.

That measure is a useful way to assess which party is more excited about a midterm election, and it's particularly useful in Florida because the state limits primaries only to voters registered by party.

The GOP total came to almost 35 percent of what Trump won in Florida in 2016. The Democrats' total was about 33 percent of Hillary Clinton's 2016 turnout.

Of course, it doesn't mean Republicans are guaranteed big wins in Florida this fall. But it does show the GOP base in Florida is anything but depressed, turning out in solid numbers to nominate DeSantis after he was endorsed by Trump.

The scenario cuts against the grain of a midterm election cycle that's been defined by energy on the left in other states, and it puts an added burden on Florida Democratic candidates to attract voters who didn't participate in Tuesday's primaries.


There was less drama on the Senate side in battleground Florida, but the stage is now set for what will likely be the nation's most expensive midterm contest.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott easily captured the Republican nomination in the GOP's bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson. At 75 and seeking his fourth term, Nelson is considered particularly vulnerable as voters continue to show disdain for candidates with deep ties to the establishment.

Scott, an independently wealthy businessman, has already spent more $27 million on the race compared to Nelson's $6 million. The conservative Koch network has identified the Senate seat as a top target, and outside groups on both sides are expected to dump millions more in the contest.

The extraordinary price tag of running a statewide campaign in Florida, which features 10 media markets, will test each side's resolve and resources — particularly on the Democratic side.

Republicans know Scott can and will dump millions more of his own personal wealth into his campaign. Democrats aren't so lucky.

National Democrats are already weighing how best to invest their limited dollars considering their challenges in other states where their incumbents are on the defensive. Yet if Democrats lose Nelson's seat in Florida, their already narrow path to the Senate majority becomes virtually nonexistent.


In his upset victory, Gillum joins two other African-American gubernatorial nominees on the November ballot, Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams and Maryland Democrat Ben Jealous, in what may be the party's most diverse midterm class in history.

No state is currently represented by a black governor.

The nominations, of course, do not mean the candidates will continue to re-write history.

Republicans have cast Gillum, like the other black nominees, as part of their party's far-left fringe. Indeed, in all three cases, the candidates were backed by Sanders. Progressive billionaires Steyer and George Soros invested heavily in Gillum's primary campaign as well.

Diversity may help win Democratic primaries in 2018, but it's unclear if it'll help Democrats pick up seats among a broader general election audience.


Associated Press writer Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Primary takeaways: Establishment fails and diversity grows
Primary night takeaways: Establishment fails, diversity grows and Sheriff Joe says goodbye
1:22AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Legal marijuana industry tries to shake 'stoner' stereotypes
With the nation's multibillion-dollar marijuana industry beginning to flower, the commercial cannabis industry is pushing hard to dispel the idea everyone who tokes up these days is a stumbling slacker living on their parents' couch
1:18AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Delta Sigma Theta pays tribute to soror, the Queen of Soul
Hundreds of Delta Sigma Theta members pay last respects to Queen of Soul in moving tribute to their soror
1:11AM ( 27 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Sentencing underway for ex-Texas cop convicted of murder
Texas jurors who convicted a former police officer of murder in the death of a black, unarmed teenager will hear more testimony when the sentencing phase of the trial resumes
12:35AM ( 1 hour ago )
Djokovic in 'survival mode' at steamy US Open; Federer wins
Novak Djokovic went into 'survival mode' to get through his first-round match at the U.S. Open in extreme heat and humidity; Roger Federer won more easily
12:10AM ( 1 hour ago )
Delays in opening polling locations disrupts Arizona primary
Voters in some locations in and near Phoenix waited in line to vote even past the 7 p.m. closing time after some locations failed to open in time for Tuesday's primary
11:08PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
The Latest: Sorority hosts packed tribute to Aretha Franklin
The Latest: Delta Sigma Theta sorority hosts packed tribute of song, speeches and scripture to Aretha Franklin after first day of diva's public viewing in Detroit
10:55PM ( 2 hours ago )
Fans mourn Aretha Franklin at gospel-infused public viewing
Fans bow, blow kisses toward Aretha Franklin at public viewing that highlights her gospel legacy
10:19PM ( 3 hours ago )
Ex-Texas cop guilty of murder for killing unarmed black teen
In rare conviction, white former police officer found guilty of murder for fatally shooting unarmed black teenager last year in suburban Dallas
10:00PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Trump accuses Google of rigged search results about him
President Donald Trump is accusing Google and other U.S. tech companies of rigging search results about him "so that almost all stories & news is BAD."
12:36AM ( 1 hour ago )
Arizona Senate primary run in Trump's shadow
Arizona's Republicans on Tuesday will decide a three-way battle over which candidate to nominate to replace the state's junior U.S. senator, who is retiring because he has no political future after criticizing President Donald Trump
10:24PM ( 3 hours ago )
Mortgage company head wins GOP primary for Oklahoma governor
Tulsa mortgage company owner and political newcomer Kevin Stitt won the Republican nomination in the race to become Oklahoma's next governor
10:18PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Mississippi lawmakers approve bill to create a state lottery
The Mississippi House has reversed itself and passed a lottery bill to create a state lottery _ the same bill it killed a day earlier
5:36PM ( 8 hours ago )
Bill Gates directs education funding to poor US schools
Marking another phase in his education agenda, Bill Gates is now taking a more targeted approach to help America's struggling schools
4:51PM ( 8 hours ago )
Tearful Graham mourns McCain in Senate eulogy
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham mourned John McCain on the Senate floor, saying his best friend should be remembered for a life of forgiveness, fighting and love
4:51PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
What to watch during elections in Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma
What to watch: Voters in Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma to settle on candidates
1:30PM ( 12 hours ago )
Florida primary features Trump defender in governor's race
Florida voters are going to the polls to select nominees to replace Republican Gov. Rick Scott in an election that's caught the attention of President Donald Trump
10:06AM ( 15 hours ago )
Judges: Congress map still unlawful with partisan bias
Federal judges have affirmed their earlier decision striking North Carolina's congressional districts as unconstitutional because Republicans drew them with excessive partisanship
1:59AM ( 23 hours ago )
AP Elections
The Latest: Governor to wait to announce McCain replacement
The governor of Arizona does not plan to announce whom he will appoint to replace Republican John McCain in the U.S. Senate until after McCain's burial
12:05PM ( 2 days ago )
Democrats OK limiting party leaders' role in picking nominee
After two years of sometimes ugly public fighting, Democratic Party leaders have decided to limit their own high-profile roles in choosing presidential nominees
5:18PM ( 3 days ago )
Neo-Nazis, counter-demonstrators rally in Swedish capital
More than 200 supporters of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement have staged a rally in the Swedish capital a few weeks before the country's general election
4:49PM ( 3 days ago )
General Election News
The Latest: Makeshift memorials for McCain grow in Phoenix
Mourners are visiting two makeshift memorials for John McCain in Arizona
5:30PM ( 1 day ago )
Ugandan pop star, government critic Bobi Wine free on bail
Ugandan pop star and member of parliament Bobi Wine has been freed on bail
12:49PM ( 1 day ago )
Colombia anti-corruption referendum comes up shy on votes
An anti-corruption referendum in Colombia drew millions to the polls Sunday but fell just short of a required participation threshold to push forward measures aimed at improving transparency and stiffening penalties for white-collar criminals
10:23PM ( 2 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
Legal marijuana industry tries to shake 'stoner' stereotypes
With the nation's multibillion-dollar marijuana industry beginning to flower, the commercial cannabis industry is pushing hard to dispel the idea everyone who tokes up these days is a stumbling slacker living on their parents' couch
1:18AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Delta Sigma Theta pays tribute to soror, the Queen of Soul
Hundreds of Delta Sigma Theta members pay last respects to Queen of Soul in moving tribute to their soror
1:11AM ( 27 minutes ago )
Asian stock markets rise after Wall Street gain
Asian stock markets rise after Wall Street gains
1:04AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Graham says McCain was a man of honor, imperfection
Remembering his friend, Graham says there's a little John McCain in everyone
1:04AM ( 35 minutes ago )
Liberal Gillum, Trump-backed DeSantis win Florida primaries
Trump-backed DeSantis wins Florida GOP gubernatorial primary
1:03AM ( 36 minutes ago )